Logistics and Supply Chain Partnerships (COVID Update)


A yellow Backline lorry out on the road

When it comes to logistics and supply chain partnerships, supply chain managers are facing an unprecedented set of challenges as we learn to live with the profound changes and disruption caused by COVID-19.
 
Whilst the economy has slumped by 20% and logistics sector has dropped by as much as 50%, we are also seeing massive surges in demand for certain goods and products.
 
Ecommerce is leading a summer retail rebound whilst warehouses and logistics teams come to terms with social distancing and home working.
 
This topsy-turvy state of affairs places a great deal of pressure on supply, demand, and logistics. So how are we responding to this crisis and what more needs to be done?
 

Learning to live with it

There are some who still believe that a return to normality is just around the corner, but it could be a fools’ paradise to trust to fate.
 
Until we know otherwise, we have to learn how to live with the situation we are in.
 
A recent survey by Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) found that 46% of supply chain managers expect it to take around 12 months for us to get back to normal.
 
The same survey found that 62% of respondents will be looking for new or alternative suppliers to help them rebuild their broken supply chains.
 
Whilst this means opportunity for good logistics partners, it also means increased competition to secure the best ones.
 

Lean logistics is key

There is a huge appetite out there for finding solutions. The logistics industry has responded by adapting its procurement teams to working from home as they onboard new clients.
 
We have also introduced a whole raft of new and intricate social distancing and safety measures in our warehouses and working practices.
 
To achieve this in the middle of an unprecedented global health crisis, with contradictory headwinds of economic slumps and surging demand, shows a great deal of resilience.
 
This resilience is the key ingredient that can now be used to help ambitious supply chain managers reorganise their operations into leaner, more effective organisations.
 

Logistics and supply chain partnerships

The logistics partners that have been able to adapt have been the ones with strong existing cultures and practices.
 
Organisations with a culture of continuous ongoing training have found it much easier to respond to the crisis as they already have willingness to learn and improve baked into their DNA.
 
Whilst something as seemingly simple as having always had an expectation that your drivers wear a uniform, makes the introduction of masks and additional PPE more culturally acceptable.
 
On the whole, the logistics partners with the processes and expectations of professionalism already in place have proven to be the ones more able to pivot and adapt to the new reality we find ourselves in.
 

Organisational culture

As businesses seek to rebuild their broken supply chains in the wake of the COVID crisis, finding logistics partners who can withstand the challenges ahead requires some investigation into their culture.
 
Do they offer in-house driver training, or expect their drivers to source it for themselves elsewhere? Can they demonstrate a history of providing excellent long-term staff retention through fair remuneration and genuine career support?
 
Now is the time to embrace a lean methodology and work with logistics partners who share a similar appetite for sustainable success.
 

The long road ahead

Despite the awful events of the last few months, there are many things to be optimistic about.
 
Manufacturing has stabilised across the UK and is showing good signs of recovery; Ecommerce is booming; one way or another we will be leaving the EU at the end of the year and will finally have some clarity on our future trading relationship with Europe (no more noisy political rhetoric!).
 
These are big challenges we face, but COVID has allowed us to demonstrate that organisations exist who can meet a crisis head on, adapt, pivot and grow.
 
As the great philosopher Rocky Balboa once said; “It isn’t how hard you can hit, it’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving.”
COVID has tested the logistics industry, and found it to be much stronger, more adaptable, and more dependable that many previously thought. And we are moving much faster than ever.
 
If you would like to find out more about building strong, sustainable and long-term logistics and supply chain management partnerships, contact us today.